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Outdoor Play – Why We Love It!

Outdoor Play – Why We Love It!

We are lucky in this part of the world to experience the type of weather which enables going outside to be possible in any season. This allows the opportunity for year-round outdoor play and exploration.

The advantages of outdoor play for children are well-noted. Whilst many parents love to send their children outside to play (less noise and mess inside the house!) the list of perks of doing so is actually quite extensive. Early childcare centres look to maximise the amount of time children spend outside – and here’s just some of the reasons:

Benefits of Outdoor Play  

  • The opportunity for hands-on learning in the natural environment, and with loose parts, helps to stimulate a child’s senses, via everything they see, smell, hear and touch
  • Exploring the world around them and gaining understanding and appreciation for it
  • Room to move! More space to dance, jump, run, throw, kick and all the physical activities that are key to a healthy physical development and greater co-ordination, agility, and balance.
  • Use of imagination and creativity when inventing their own games
  • Opportunity to build on their social skills playing with friends, along with decision-making and problem-solving
  • Greater sense of responsibility as they ‘help’ (such as watering plants and flowers) or assisting with domestic chores (such as hanging out the washing)
  • Gaining a sense of independence as they explore outside the confines of their house and take limited risks outside (such as “can I swing across these monkey bars?”)
  • Lower body mass index and increased fitness levels due to more physical activity
  • Safe exposure to sunlight improves moods and can strengthen immune systems

Examples of outdoor play

You definitely don’t need expensive play equipment to make the most of your child being outdoors! Here are just some of the possibilities:

  • Treasure hunts
  • Bush walks or walking around the neighbourhood
  • Riding bikes and scooters
  • Playing with a ball or a skipping rope
  • Collecting items from nature such as twigs and leaves
  • Visit local playground – with the opportunity to include lessons about road safety and pedestrian safety
  • Watering plants, sweeping, pulling out weeds
  • Formal or informal sport in groups
  • Making up games with friends

ACECQA has noted that time spent outside by children, play and exploring, gives them opportunities to ‘explore, discover and appreciate the natural world, as well as be active, strengthen fine and gross motor movement skills, test physical limits and get messy.’

It is strongly encouraged that all children, including babies, should spend time in the outdoors as part of their daily routine. And of course, always remember the importance of sun protection (SPF, hats and protective clothing) when sending them out to explore their world!